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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tips for Moms That Study | Guest Post

I gave birth to my now 6 year old son just before starting my final year of Nursing studies. I was a very naive just turned 21 year old, and I didn't realise just how complicated life gets with a little one. Despite quickly realising how tough it was going to be I was determined to graduate with my fellow nursing friends, and successfully realised this goal.

Graduation Day- Early 2009
I insisted on getting a photo with my 14 month old son (mainly because he helped inspire me to finish and make a better life for us).

Studying with a little one can be tough, but is absolutely achievable with the right mindset. I've made a list of tips that got me through the "hardest" part of my life, and helped me build a wonderful future for my family.

Childcare- Finding the right childcare is vital

My son was a young 7 weeks old when I started my first full time 8 week placement in a large teaching hospital, and I struggled with the decision to place him with virtual strangers. For me there was no alternative at the time (we were going backwards financially, and the sooner I finished the sooner we would dig our way out of our situation). My husband, mother and mother in law all worked full time and were unable to help with childcare arrangements. I knew these facts before becoming pregnant and once pregnant started looking for the best childcare my low amount of funds could afford. Once deciding on the perfect location I booked my "gender neutral" child into childcare when I was 3 months pregnant (we didn't know what we were having at that point, and the best centres book up quick). The things that guided me in making my decision were mainly the staff, flexibility of care arrangements (630am-630pm care), and the care provided (I wasn't too worried about how new the place was, or if they had the latest toys). I will forever be grateful for the amazing care provided at our first childcare centre.

Timetables- You need to be organised

Depending on your course there may be multiple classes on different days to choose from. There is such a thing as the "perfect timetable," and as a mother you need to be aiming for the perfect timetable every semester. If you take public transport you need to work out what time your bus/train leaves (after you have dropped the little one into care), and if you have enough time to get to your first class. If not then you need to book the class that does fit. Booking the perfect timetable took a little work in the days prior to picking classes, but was well worth it. We had an online system of booking classes, and I managed to get the perfect class every time by having multiple windows open (that were pre-filled with the class details). So when 8am finally ticked over I always got what I wanted in record time.

Mornings- Getting ready starts the night before

I don't know about you, but I'm a little foggy in the mornings (until I've eaten something). So the night before I always had the routine of getting everything ready. My son's things were ready for childcare and on the kitchen bench, my clothes were hanging up so I never looked too terrible, the car/house keys were in their allocated spot, and I had my study materials ready for the next day. That way when I woke up I simply had to go through the motions. This was really important for me, and meant that even if I had only 2 hours sleep I would still manage to get to school with the right textbooks.

Multitasking- Study whenever and wherever

I always laugh when people ask me about my honeymoon. Mainly because all I remember was writing my assignment on the plane, and in our accommodation (when it should have been spent enjoying my last days as a couple). I was 4 months pregnant at this time, and it really should have been called a homeworkmoon. The opportunity to study when you have children is very small as I found out, and I became great at working study into everything that I did. Public transport was study time, lunch breaks were study time (sneaking food into computer lounges and libraries), and if I got out early from a class that was also study time (usually out the front of the next class). When I got home things were a little different as I wanted to spend my time with my little one, and that's what I did. Nap time was study time for mum, and baby bedtime was also study time for mum. I didn't get a lot of sleep in this time.

Do as much as you can at school

This one is really important. As a mum at home you are always on the job. So I found the best way to study was to do it at school where there were no distractions.

Support

Lastly you need a cheersquad. For me that was my mother in law, best friend and husband. They told me not to give up when I was down and wanted to throw in the towel. They took my screaming son from me when they could see I needed sleep, and they stood by me when I had no energy to be a good friend or wife.

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I just want to say thank you so much to Kylie from Why Does Mummy Do It? for contributing today's post! I can definitely relate to everything she has written as a fellow student mom and she has offered up a lot of great advice for others! Just because you're a new mommy (or maybe not even new) does not mean you cannot go to school and make something better of yourself and your family. It's tough, but it's definitely possible!

Please be sure to check out Kylie's blog. She is now a mom to two sweet little boys and she blogs about her journey through motherhood.

If you're interested in contributing a guest post, click here.


Monday, April 21, 2014

What I Learned About Volunteering


How was your Easter weekend? Mine was incredible. Travis was too cute in his Easter outfit and he loved his Easter basket and playing with the eggs!

But on Saturday, when Travis was with his dad, I was able to volunteer a bit of my time at my church. My church has several services as it is, so I typically go to the 6:15 service on Saturday nights while Travis is with his dad so that he doesn't have to go to the nursery, but for Easter, they had even more services. Not only was there a 6:15 service on Saturday night, but there was also a 4:30 service. The two weekends before Easter, the church left volunteer cards on everyone's chairs asking for volunteers for Easter weekend. Since I didn't have any other plans on Saturday, I put down that I could volunteer for the 4:30 service then I could go to the 6:15 service with my family.

About a week later, they e-mailed me to let me know that I would be helping out with the preschool kids and helping with their service. The message was that Jesus is a great friend and the memory verse was, of course, John 3:16. They did a resurrection egg craft and sang worship songs and then at the end they played with Legos until their parents came to pick them up.

And if there's one thing I learned…it's that I'm really intimidated by 25 little 4-5 year olds.

No, I'm kidding. Sort of.

I've never really gotten a chance to do much volunteering, and I learned that volunteering my time to help others--even if it's a simple hour and a half to hang out with a bunch of kids--feels like valuable time spent.

I learned that kids pout and cry when their parents drop them off, but within two seconds are running around with all of the other kids.

I learned that kids have the biggest hearts. One five-year-old boy went up to another on the playground and said, "Do you want to play with me?" And so, they played together. Simple as that.

I learned that four-and five-year-olds are smart. I watched them during our craft time and during Lego time and it always amazes me all of the things that kids can do. Just like Travis amazes me with all of the things that he can do.

I learned that I can't wait to watch Travis grow to be that age. Spelling his own name, counting, doing things on his own. And most of all, being completely content to just sit still and play with Legos.

I learned not to assume things. There was only one little black boy in the group, so when parents started picking their kids up, I assumed that his parents would be black as well. A white woman ended up coming to pick him up. I'm not sure if he was adopted or if she was his stepmom, but it was still a good lesson not to assume things about people's families. It was really sweet.

I learned that it's not hard to teach kids about Jesus. And that they were enthusiastic to learn. They all knew about Jesus and enjoyed the Resurrection egg craft that we did.

I learned that it makes you feel good inside to give some of your time for a good cause.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to volunteer more often, and not just for my church. It's such a valuable thing to do with your time.

Do you volunteer often? Where do you volunteer your time?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Traditions | Hiding the Easter Basket


I really love holidays. I've always loved an excuse for presents, candy, and special activities. But there's something that's even more exciting about it now that I get to play a role like the Easter Bunny and make holidays magical for someone else. I had a blast picking out treats for Travis's Easter basket and putting it together. He's too young for a basketful of candy, but there are still plenty of fun things that he can get:

+ Stuffed bunny
+ Bubbles
+ Sidewalk chalk
+ Coloring/activity book
+ Yogurt melts inside plastic eggs
+ Puffs
+ Chocolate bunny (the one sugary thing that he did get!)
+ The Story of Easter

My parents were never very religious and never told me the story behind Easter, but I want to raise Travis to understand why we celebrate.

Holiday traditions are fun to uphold every year. My family's plans for Easter so far are this:

+ I'm making pancakes in the morning,
+ We're having an Easter egg hunt,
+ We're packing a lunch,
+ Then we're hauling our butts off to the beach!
+ And on the way home, we're going to stop off at a barbecue joint for dinner.

And somewhere in there, Travis will get to hunt for his Easter basket! One fun activity that my parents did each Easter was to hide our Easter baskets. They were never very hard to find--just under a desk or a table or behind a big piece of furniture. But it added another exciting element to the whole thing! We always had the same Easter basket each year so my sister and I knew whose basket was whose. Obviously this year, I'm not going to really try to hide the basket. Travis still doesn't actually know that it's Easter this weekend and that the Easter Bunny is going to come bring him treats. But it's fun to start traditions.

What are some of your family's Easter traditions? Do you have Easter plans this year?


Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Egg Vase


I went to Target for M&Ms and dog food the other day and consequently came out with a whole cartful of Easter goodness. I've--I mean the Easter Bunny has--already gotten Travis's Easter basket together! Last year for Easter, Travis just got a bunch of new little newborn toys because he was only two months old. This year is much more exciting because he gets to participate and will enjoy his Easter basket more and he will get to have an Easter egg hunt! :)

Of course, as part of Travis's Easter basket, I got plastic eggs and plastic grass. There are a lot more in those bags than it seems like, so I was very thankful that I only ended up getting one bag of eggs and one bag of grass, because I had contemplated getting two.

My parents have a whole cabinet full of vases in their laundry room, so when I was brainstorming what I could do with the leftover eggs and grass, I decided that an Easter egg vase seemed like the perfect idea!

I just stuffed a bit of plastic grass into the bottom of the vase and arranged the plastic eggs in the vase the best that I could. Another layer of grass, then two eggs just chilling on the top. I'm very pleased! It's so festive!

That didn't even use up all of the eggs, so I'm also contemplating making an Easter egg garland. Because why the heck not?!